Archive for October, 2003

Monday, October 27th, 2003

Not much going on. Incrementally working on work work, playing a bit of Crimson Skies, The Lord of the Rings, Def Jam Vendetta, and a whole metric shitload of SSX3, a completely fantastic and utterly awesome snowboarding game, that’s fun even for non-snowboarders. Crimson Skies is fantastic as well, LoTR’s a better licensed game than Enter the Matrix, and Def Jam is … unique. So, lots of fun stuff.

Also been doing some stuff around the house – mostly trying to get the front yard in shape, but BOY is that slow going. Also been keeping busy with lots of random little things. Which is good. Still working out somewhat regularly, and have dropped about 7-ish pounds since I started, which is good, but it’s pretty fluctuating, so who can say?

Hm. Other than that, I’m not sure there’s a whole lot going on. I mean, spent a couple days doing a focus group, which was both fun, and profitable, and reading a bit.

Yeah, if it sounds boring, it pretty much is. Drywall inspection on the downstairs tomorrow. I’m really hoping it goes well. We’ll see.

Monday, October 20th, 2003

Couple days since I last updated. In a bit of a mental crisis, so I suppose here’s as good a place as any to sort my thoughts. Structure may be a bit weird, but whatever.

It’s hard to work for your father. Aside from the “son of the CEO” thing that will *always* undercut any achievement you make, or make you feel like a charity case, or make you feel like your contributions are only considered because of your father, there’s the issue that it’s really god damned hard to meet any sort of expectations he might have. There’s the issue that it’s simply impossible, when you feel like you’re failing at your job for whatever reason, not to feel like you’re not only letting your boss down, but your dad, as well. Particularly when one holds as high standards as mine does.

I feel, in this job, like pretty much, a complete failure. I’ve been working with a wire saw, trying to get a process down, for nearly two years. Two YEARS, and not a consistent set of cuts to be had. It’s insanity. And I feel like it’s my fault. Never mind that the saw is a piece of worthless trash, and that it’s had manufacturer-side problems that they’re only just discovering last week, and that I’ve done everything from here to next week to try to figure out what the matter’s been – the *fact* of the matter is that in two years, I’ve gotten maybe five reasonable looking cuts on this saw. Not good. Then, there’s the issue that the first year and a half of my job was spent building a crystal growth reactor. I have no (ZERO) experience building complex vacuum systems. Not only that, I had ZERO experience in semiconductor crystal growth at ALL. I’d never SEEN a crystal growth reactor prior to building one, and to this day, I’ve never actually operated one. Ever. I found out, a year after it was done, that there are usually *teams* of people that work on this sort of stuff. That *gasp* multiple people work on projects like this. That one person doesn’t usually do all the mechanics, controls, and software. So maybe that accounts for why the software was so haphazard, since it was the first thing I’d ever done in LabVIEW, the most complex piece of software I’ve ever had to write, and written for a process I’d never ever seen anything even *like* in action? Maybe. I should have done more research, I should have gone somewhere and observed others, I should have understood the process more thoroughly. But it’s hard to come up with that sort of stuff when you have zero experience, and also zero management, and no mentor, or anything even remotely similar.

So, yeah, it’s stressful. And now, I’m sitting here, not getting paid, because I’ve volunteered to be put on leave, but I’m still stressed, because I’m trying to hook up all the I/O systems for our new machine in my “spare” time, and the future’s so unclear that I have no idea whether two months from now, I’ll be working or broke. So there’s both the parental stress, the uncertainty stress, and the simple fact that I’ve never been really excited about this job. Every other job I’ve had since being in the working world, I’ve taken with gusto, and beaten to a bloody pulp. At Argyle, I never missed a deadline, and no project was ever late, incomplete, or unchecked. Everything I did was stellar. I beat every deadline I was ever given at Alesis, and I made things work in half the time I was given, with half the parts they thought it would require. At Sega, I stomped all over the project, and despite losing 80% of the team involved, we were only a month late, with only three people on the project, WHILE I was teaching a middle school class, and working in the evenings for what would become the company I work for now. I *LOVED* it, even thought it was absolute insanity.

Now? I’m essentially doing nothing. I’ve essentially done nothing for almost a year, and it’s driving me bonkers. I’m miserable about work, I can’t say with pride that I’ve done anything that I would describe as substantial in the last year and a half, and the career I’d like to advance hasn’t made a step forward in three years. And if my dad reads this, he’ll suggest that I should quit, or that I should be fired, in order to motivate me to go find something different. But that’s not what I want. I want to either tie things up and leave gracefully, at a time when the project I’m on has enough resources I know it’ll go on without me. When the company’s stable, and the investment of the last three years of my life will have *meant* something, and not turn to dust.

But when? When is that? What is that? Will I make the decision when I’m supposed to? I don’t know. If an opportunity comes along, and I have to take it, I take it, and the company tanks – or worse yet, takes off without me? What then? But if I do nothing, if I sit here on the status quo, am I happy? No. It’s been hard to come to that decision, and say it outright, but no, I’m not happy with the way things are now, and something substantial needs to change before I am. I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable being the son of the CEO – it just carries too much baggage, for my perception in the eyes of others, and in my own.


Still, we’ll see. At some point, I’ll have to raise the issue myself. ‘Till then, I suppose, the best I can do is consider it as thoroughly as possible, and make sure I’m proactive about it.

In other “news” – the downstairs is progressing, and now that I’ve found my digital camera (stuck under the car seat) I’ll be taking some photos & posting them on the house page. Picked up Paul Krugman’s and Molly Ivins’ new books, as well as a book on Atkins – figure it’s worth reading about, and I’ve got a couple people I know who have done well on it, with no ill effects. So, best to know what you’re looking at, before leaping into it, I suppose. Gonna try to cook more, as well – been getting slack about it, because it’s been so tiring recently. Now that I have time, though, I should take advantage of it. Been watching Jamie’s Kitchen, and if those 15 jokers can pull it off, I ought to be able to cook reasonably myself.

Almost finished with Jak & Daxter, and Freedom Fighters – probably less than two hours in each of ’em, and will likely finish them this week. Maybe play Shenmue II next, or pick up Crimson Skies to play on Live. Rainbow Six 3 comes out this next week too, I think, and I’ve got that preordered, so that’s a go regardless. Been playing Pictionary (tons of fun), reading a book called Jennifer Government (by Max Barry), and trying to exercise more regularly.


Wednesday, October 8th, 2003

Well, it looks like we’ve got a new governor. One with no experience at all.



I wonder, honestly, what’s happening, here? How is it that the Republicans have picked up momentum? How do they dominate the talk radio circuit, when you’ve got vapid airbags like Hannity & Rush, who are on their faces wrong about half the bullshit that spews from their gaping maws? How is it that you have an administration as blatantly corrupt as the Bush administration, and yet, Bush’s approval rating isn’t in the single digits?

It boggles my mind. Is the general public really that idiotic? Is it that the majority of Americans simply don’t believe in any sort of social responsibility save to the dollar? Is it that they see these rich fucks strutting around, patting each other on the back, and the hope that one day, they’ll also be soulless fat cats so overwhelming that it beats out any sense of decency or common sense?

I don’t understand it.

How could you be anything less than a millionaire, and vote Republican? I suppose you could be deluded by the rhetoric of tax cuts, and all that bullshit, but if you even take a cursory look at what your bottom line is, it’s obvious that you’re getting screwed, under the guise of populism.

How could you be a woman and be a Republican? How could you be a minority and be a Republican? How could you be a homosexual, and be a Republican? How could you be anything but a rich, white man, and be a Republican? And even then, you’d have to believe that corporate welfare is ok, but social welfare is not, that equal rights aren’t really equal rights, and you’d have to be a fundamentalist Christian, to boot. Is this the majority of America, now? Is it?

Because if it is, I’ll have to be honest. I’ve got two choices. I could either somehow struggle against the masses, to try to make America a better place, if I truly believed it was the “land of opportunity” and if I truly believed that it was a place that brings out the best in people, and that there wasn’t a viable alternative to America as a place in the world. Or I could leave.

And honestly, the masses are too massive. I don’t believe, under a Republican philosophy, that it’s a land of opportunity. It’s an ideology where the rich get richer, and the poor are kept where they ‘belong’. In that kind of society, opportunity is sacrificed at the altar of big business, and the willingness to make a positive difference in the world is undermined unless it inflates the bottom line. I certainly don’t see the best in people, when I think Republican. Rather, I see a group that bases their politics around racism, to save the southern vote, a ‘good-ole boys’ club mentality, misogynism (even from the Republican women, strangely enough, if you listen to the way the women who defend Schwarzenegger talk, their ideology is more important than *gasp* electing someone who’s a confessed harasser), and corporate greed. Is there something I’m missing? What part of this is the American Dream of equality, opportunity, and compassion?

If I look at Canada, a country I’ve spent a good deal of time in over the years, I see a country where yeah, taxes are high. No question. But it’s clean, in a way that the US is not. The people are nicer, by and large. There are more places to live that are safe. I don’t have to worry about being shot, a block from my house. Where the educational system is competant, and *respected* in a way that it’s not in the US. Of course I’m not seeing the whole picture, but I’ve spent months there on end, and I know for a *FACT* that the population is proud to be Canadian in a way that I *cannot* feel proud to be an American.

I don’t understand what’s happened. It wasn’t that long ago that I liked living in this country, that I felt proud to be an American, that I felt like the future held limitless potential, and that it was good be optimistic about the future. Now, I feel any optimism is a moronic delusion, that our government is bought and paid for by the ludicrously wealthy, and that my label, an American, born and raised, is a badge of shame, not pride.

A country where the leader is a failed Yale legacy, railing against the unfairness of affirmative action, who can talk about it sincerely because he’s too stupid to understand that the legacy system is far worse, in terms of socioeconomic discrimination than anything Affirmative Action’s ever been, where someone like Tom DeLay garners any sort of respect at all, where most of the country is willing to believe whatever they hear on the news, or from the White House press secretary without even bothering to think about it… this isn’t America.


We’re gonna see a backlash, same as when Ventura was elected governor. The people will see they fucked up, and regret it, and wonder how we’ve done this to ourselves. We got ourselves into a war in Iraq, gung-ho and full of bluster, and now we wonder, how did we end up in this 87 billion dollar morass. We run a completely jiggered anti-democratic-on-its-face recall, and wonder why we’ve completely subverted our own system of government.

These are things that are OBVIOUS at the outset, if the public even bothered to think about it for a moment. These are things that can be projected by anyone with half a brain. These are things that we can *PREVENT* before they happen because they’re stupid ON THEIR FACE, and obvious to anyone smart enough to rub two sticks together. But for some reason, the public insists that we should just do whatever *feels* right, then deal with the outcome later.

I’m appalled at how popular stupidity has become. How celebrated it is in our popular culture, and how much of a stigma there is to “intellectualism”. I’m disgusted that it’s uncool to be smart. I despise the notion that “cool” is more important than “kind” and that “knowledge” is outweighed by the virtue of “ignorance”. It makes me absolutely sick to my stomach to remember how ostracized I felt when I was brought into the gifted program in my middle school, and how *relieved* I was to quit it, though I learned more, and in more interesting ways, than at any other time in my public school education. I know more about the Battle of Hastings than I do about WWII, because I learned it in an interesting way. But I quit that program, because I couldn’t endure the torture at the hands of my peers on a day to day basis, for a year and a half.

It *DISGUSTS* me that this kind of behaviour is “normal” for kids – that parents and even teachers accept is as a routine part of our growing up. That people that exceed the status quo need to, for whatever reason, be brought back down to it, either by a destruction of their self-esteem, or by being beaten up after school. That excelling is frowned upon, and that even in this land of freedom and diversity, that being like everyone else is the most prized virtue we instill in our children.

Fuck that.

And fuck this stupid country. Fuck it up its stupid ass.


It feels, to me, that the general attitude of the Republican party isn’t too different than that of an elementary school bully. The point is that they want to keep what’s theirs, whether they earned it or not. Thus the repeal of the dividends and estate taxes. They want to amass more wealth, even on the backs of the less fortunate. Thus the reluctance to close tax loopholes that demand, in order to be competitive, that companies move their headquarters offshore, to avoid paying taxes out of potential profits. They don’t care what happens to anyone that’s not them, and have a stunning lack of compassion for those that are unable to be in a position to work the machine, or dominate by whatever means necessary. They don’t care about anything apart from themselves, not their fellow man, nor their environment, nor the future. Thus the tax cuts, thus the exclusion of people legitimately paying payroll taxes but in the lower income brackets from the child tax credit. Thus the redistricting of Texas, thus the financing of an absurd execution of an obsolete and poorly-written law.

It is inconceivable to me, in all honesty, that *anyone* would believe this mode of thinking is appropriate. I believe that there are Republicans who believe in the ideology because it benefits them, in exactly the manner I’ve described. I believe that there are Republicans who believe that one day, they will be in a position that it will benefit them. But I cannot believe that people can actually put the words “compassionate” and “conservative” next to each other, and not know they’re liars. I cannot believe that anyone who knows anyone who is gay, for instance, believes they’re less than human, that their love is less than anyone else’s, or that they deserve to be treated worse than everyone else. I cannot believe that anyone who has ever even *seen* poverty, would believe that the economic policies that the Republicans stand for are acceptable, not only to the poor, but to *ANYONE*.

I don’t understand it. I don’t understand it at all. I don’t understand why this is the belief of the majority of my state. The state I grew up in, that I have all these great hopes for. That we are, in the end, soulless, superficial, mentally vacant drones. I knew the country was basically that, but I always held out hope that California, at the very least, would do the right thing.

What can I say? I was wrong. Wrong. We’re the same batch of morons and simpletons that pervade the entire country, it seems.


Monday, October 6th, 2003

So. That was an odd 20 minutes.

Eingy & I were lying in bed, when we heard what I thought must have been crunching aluminum. So, I looked outside, to see if anything was happening, and there wasn’t any sign of movement. I figured, well, you’ve got some raccoon wandering around crushing someone’s cans in their recycling bin. I almost went back to sleep, but instead, decided I’d go to our front window, and take a look around, because it was certainly louder than any sort of raccoon I’d ever heard. I looked out our front window, and there it was, unmistakably. A fire, about three stories high, the cloud of smoke just coming out of the top of the roof. So it’s fresh, and it’s only been going for maybe two minutes, at this point.

I grabbed the cell phone, threw on some long pants, woke up everyone in the house, and ran out to see what I could do. When we got to the house, which was an old, run down, structurally un-sound house that had just recently been sold (yes, the obvious conspiracy theories have been brought up, and discussed), it was obvious that if there was anyone inside, there was nothing that anyone without a seriously flame-retardant suit could do for them. The house was bright orange inside, anywhere you could look, and thick smoke was pouring out of everywhere where there was oxygen. Windows were breaking, and letting more air into the house. We ran to the side closer to us, and woke up the woman inside. I grabbed her hose, and started hosing down the tree next to her house, and the house that was on fire. It was a small, spindly tree, with lots of small leaves. The window next to the tree broke, and flames were licking at it. The woman from the house ran around to the back yard, and started hosing it from the other side.

The fire department showed up after about five minutes (those guys are quick), and began the process of stopping the fire. I stopped hosing, since the professionals had arrived, and lined up with the rest of the neighborhood, watching the fire from across the street. I’ve never seen a fire of that intensity. Seen the aftermath, last time I was in NYC, of a deli that had gone up like that, but I’d never seen the active fire in person. Unbelievable. You’d hear a window break from the heat, and moments later, four foot flames would be spewing from the thing. There were certainly moments reminiscent about Backdraft, but fortunately, at least to this point, where the majority of the fire is out, and things are controlled, no one’s been hurt. Hopefully, there was no one inside. If there was, they’re undoubtedly dead, and were long before we got to the scene.

Pretty damned intense. I didn’t have my camera, or time to get it, and by the time the thought occurred to me to take pictures, it was more or less too late, and the fire was mostly out. I’ll take some snaps of the aftermath tomorrow.